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Migration News Brief 8.20.21

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A compilation of recent top articles and reports related to issues of U.S. immigration and enforcement policy and migration from Central America and Mexico (articles in English and Spanish). Please feel free to send us recommendations or requests for upcoming news briefs: lalvarez@lawg.org.

Photo by: Lauri Alvarez

U.S Enforcement

A Judge Is Requiring The Biden Administration To Restart Trump’s Remain in Mexico Policy For Asylum-Seekers
Hamed Aleaziz, Buzzfeed News, August 20, 2021 
“Last week, US District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk ordered the Biden administration to restart the program until it could rescind the policy in compliance with the Administrative Procedure Act, a potentially lengthy process. His order was set to go into effect on Saturday. In the meantime, the Biden administration urged the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to stay the order while it appealed Kacsmaryk’s decision. The request was denied. The Biden administration can now request an emergency stay with the US Supreme Court.”

Biden Admin Considers Reviving Trump’s ‘Remain in Mexico’ Policy
Emily Green, VICE News, August 18, 2021
“Biden heavily criticized the policy as a candidate and suspended it on his first day in office. But as border apprehensions jumped, high-ranking officials in the White House floated the idea of bringing the program back, and it’s been bandied about for weeks among a small circle of government officials. Discussions have centered around whether there could be a gentler version of the policy—a notion immigration advocates decry as ludicrous.”

The coming US political fight over accepting refugees from Afghanistan
Sahil Kapur, NBC News, August 18, 2021 
“There is some bipartisan agreement to assist Afghans who stood with Americans. But it is unclear how many — and what categories of Afghans — will be able to come to the U.S. or whether the process will be expedited for those in danger. And while some Republicans have expressed openness to helping resettle U.S. allies in the region, there is sharp and early conservative resistance to Democratic efforts to expand refugee visas, signaling a battle to come over what has been a politically heated issue.”

If Biden wants to work with Mexico on migration and asylum, he might start talking to Mexican NGOs
Kevin Cole, Zaid Hydari, Ana Martín Gil, and Kelsey Norman, The Washington Post, August 17, 2021
“Nonprofit and civil society groups in Mexico help fill the gap, offering legal assistance, shelter and, in some cases, advocating to the Mexican government for improved responses. We recently surveyed these non-governmental organizations, or NGOs, to learn more about their needs. Our findings suggest that these groups could help improve the government’s approach to asylum, especially if their leaders could build direct relationships with U.S. policymakers.”

Haiti activists: Expand TPS, end deportations after earthquake
Alex Daugherty, Miami Herald, August 17, 2021 
“Members of Congress, Haitian-Americans and immigrant advocacy groups are calling on the Biden administration to expand Haiti’s Temporary Protected Status designation after a major earthquake claimed at least 1,300 lives in Haiti’s southwestern peninsula on Saturday. And they argue the Biden administration must stop deporting Haitian immigrants from the U.S. to Haiti, with the most recent deportation flight taking place two days before Saturday’s earthquake.”

New York leaders demand support, long-term solutions for Haiti
Sam Bojarski, The Haitian Times, August 17, 2021 
“In highlighting the city’s service to Haitians, including efforts to direct funding to four nonprofits operating in Haiti, de Blasio promised to stand with Haitian-Americans. Leaders in the Jewish and Muslim communities who spoke also expressed their solidarity with Haiti. ‘There is no New York City without the Haitian-American community,’ said de Blasio at the vigil. ‘Haiti is never alone, New York City is always with you.’”

Growing Share of Migrants From Outside Mexico, Central America Poses Challenge for Biden
Michelle Hackman, The Wall Street Journal, August 16, 2021
“But recent political turmoil across Latin America and the Caribbean, along with the continuing economic fallout from the pandemic, have sent people fleeing to the U.S. border in larger numbers than previously seen. ‘It used to be just, essentially, Central Americans and Mexicans,’ said newly-appointed Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz last week. ‘Now, when you go into some of our facilities and you see the faces, the makeup of the population is just extremely different.’”

Tras cruzar la frontera en Texas, migrantes son trasladados en avión a San Diego. Luego son expulsados a México
Kate Morrissey, Los Angeles Times, 15 de agosto de 2021 
“Los vuelos a San Diego permiten a los funcionarios de Estados Unidos expulsar a las familias que el estado mexicano de Tamaulipas, fronterizo con Texas, no aceptará, pero sí Baja California. Aunque las expulsiones locales en virtud del Título 42 no han cesado, los vuelos desde Texas se detuvieron en mayo tras una protesta pública y la promesa de los funcionarios de Seguridad Nacional de revisarlos”. 

Biden Administration Asylum Processing Revamp at the U.S. Border Could Be A Game Changer
Doris Meissner, Migration Policy Institute, August 2021
“At its simplest, the proposed rule unveiled Wednesday would shift asylum decisions from being made by immigration judges in courtrooms to being adjudicated in interviews with asylum officers specially trained to decide protection claims. At present, asylum officers decide asylum cases when they arise within the United States; in fiscal year (FY) 2020, they completed nearly 79,000 applications in the affirmative asylum caseload. The border has been treated differently because asylum applicants are already in removal proceedings for having crossed the border without authorization, and so they enter a separate and much slower “defensive asylum” process before the immigration courts. The proposed rule would permit border asylum cases to be decided by asylum officers, as all other asylum cases are, with immigration courts then serving more like an appellate body should a denied applicant seek review.”

Migrants Find Themselves Stranded Abroad by New US Policy
Sonia Pérez (Associated Press), U.S. News, August 12, 2021 
“The U.S. government has intermittently flown Mexicans deep into Mexico for years to discourage repeat attempts, but flights that began last week from Brownsville, Texas, to Villahermosa and Tapachula, near the Guatemalan border, appear to be the first time that Central Americans have been flown to Mexico. The administration is starting flights of Central Americans to southern Mexico 24 times a month, with hopes of ramping up, according to a U.S. official who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. Mexico agreed to support the effort amid strains between the administration and Central American governments and their reluctance to accept more flights from the United States.”

UNHCR concerned over US expulsion flights under COVID-19 asylum restrictions
UNHCR, August 11, 2021
“These expulsion flights of non-Mexicans to the deep interior of Mexico constitute a troubling new dimension in enforcement of the COVID-related public health order known as Title 42. Under Title 42, individuals and families are denied access to protection screening and U.S. asylum procedures. Removal from the U.S. to southern Mexico, outside any official transfer agreement with appropriate legal safeguards, increases the risk of chain refoulement – pushbacks by successive countries – of vulnerable people in danger, in contravention of international law and the humanitarian principles of the 1951 Refugee Convention. All governments have the obligation to uphold these laws and principles at all times. UNHCR recently issued a global warning against initiatives which shift asylum responsibilities elsewhere or result in denial of the right to seek asylum altogether.”

EXCLUSIVE U.S. starts flying migrant families into Mexico far from border – source
Ted Hesson, Reuters, August 5, 2021
“Nearly 200 Mexican and Central American family members were expelled deep into Mexico on Thursday in what are expected to be regular flights, the person said. The flights, which will include adults, aim to disrupt a pattern of repeat crossings under a U.S. border policy known as Title 42. U.S. President Joe Biden has reversed many of the restrictive immigration policies of his Republican predecessor, former President Donald Trump, but has left Title 42 in place amid 20-year highs in border arrests.”

White House details new Central America strategy
Rebecca Morin, USA Today, July 29, 2021
“The Biden administration Thursday laid out a series of plans tackling economic insecurity, corruption and other factors in Central America to mitigate migration from the region to the United States. The plans include addressing economic insecurity and inequality, corruption, promoting human rights, and combating violence in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.”

Mexican Enforcement

Migrants left high and dry at Guatemala border after deportations from Mexico, U.S
Sofia Menchu, Reuters, August 20, 2021
“Pedro is one of hundreds of migrants, including children and babies, from Central America that U.S. and Mexican officials have expelled further south by plane and then onward in buses towards El Ceibo, Guatemala, a tiny village of about one hundred wooden and concrete dwellings some 630 kilometers (390 miles) north of the capital, a Reuters witness observed over two days there. Many are not told where they are going.”

Under U.S. Pressure, Mexico Quietly Flying Migrants Back to Central America
Reuters, Times of San Diego, August 16, 2021 
“Under pressure from the U.S. government to contain illegal immigration, Mexico has been quietly flying thousands of undocumented migrants to the south of the country to expedite their departure, according to officials and migrants. The government said in late May it had carried out four return flights of migrants as it began a so-called ‘air bridge’ south, without saying how many people were on them.”

ACNUR hace sonar las alarmas por deportaciones bajo el Título 42 desde EE. UU. a México
Voz de América, 11 de agosto de 2021
‘’Las personas o las familias a bordo de esos vuelos que puedan tener necesidades urgentes de protección corren el riesgo de ser devueltas a los mismos peligros de los que han huido en sus países de origen en Centroamérica, sin ninguna oportunidad de que se evalúen y atiendan esas necesidades’, expresó la agencia en un comunicado”. 

El Acnur impulsa el modelo para refugiados que emplea en México
La Jornada, 9 de agosto de 2021 
“Con el objeto de agilizar la integración social de los solicitantes de asilo en México, el Alto Comisionado de Naciones Unidas para los Refugiados (Acnur) ha reforzado su programa de asistencia que permite el traslado de personas desde sus albergues temporales a otras regiones del país donde su incorporación a la vida laboral es más factible”

Root Causes 

More than 60 Civil society organizations denounce the alarming deterioration of human rights situation in El Salvador
OMCT, August 20, 2021 
“Human rights organisations express concern regarding the deterioration of the human rights situation, consolidation of authoritarian rule and hate speech against human rights defenders, organisations and media in El Salvador. The deteriorating human rights situation is a result of President Nayib Bukele and his party’s abuse of power, as well as the ongoing dismantling of public entities and national controls that would be in positions to prevent internal abuses of power.”

Guapinol: 75+ orgs piden libertad tras 2 años de detención arbitraria en Honduras
CEJIL, 17 de agosto de 2021 
“Con esta carta, solicitamos respetuosamente declarar sin lugar la prórroga de prisión preventiva solicitada por el Ministerio Público y garantizar que los ocho defensores puedan proseguir el proceso penal en libertad”.

Honduras suma mil 844 nuevos casos de COVID-19 y 91 pacientes en UCIs
Proceso Digital, 17 de agosto de 2021 
“Honduras sumó este martes otros mil 844 nuevos casos positivos de la COVID-19, con los que contabiliza 321 mil 675 contagios desde que se declaró una emergencia sanitaria por la pandemia en marzo de 2020, y 91 pacientes hospitalizados en cuidados intensivos,  informó el Sistema Nacional de Gestión de Riesgos (Sinager)”. 

Washington, la capital de la justicia guatemalteca en el exilio
Lorena Arroyo y Antonio Laborde, El País, 15 de agosto de 2021 
“Algunos han pedido asilo, otros han conseguido visas que les permiten vivir y trabajar y otros, como Gloria Porras, siguen decididos a agotar todas las opciones legales para recuperar las posiciones de las que fueron inhabilitados para que se haga justicia. ‘Como abogada creo que tengo la responsabilidad de luchar por que las cosas funcionen correctamente’, justifica Porras, quien ejerció durante diez años como magistrada de la CC, donde le abrieron decenas de procedimientos judiciales por decisiones que tomó a favor de los derechos humanos y en contra de la corrupción”. 

Guatemala registra 4 mil 167 casos nuevos de covid-19 en 24 horas y 79 muertes que no habían sido reportadas
Julio Román, Prensa Libre, 14 de agosto de 2021 
“En los últimos 30 días se han disparado los contagios de covid-19 a razón de dos mil 700 casos detectados al día, en promedio. Esto significa que entre el 13 de julio y el 11 de agosto ya se han acumulado 81 mil 173 casos y, de continuar esa tendencia, al final del mes se habrá alcanzado unos 130 mil casos de coronavirus.  Como consecuencia del aumento de contagios, los hospitales nacionales y temporales para la atención del covid-19 han colapsado. Desde el martes, el Hospital General San Juan de Dios, el más grande del país, cerró sus servicios externos para atender los brotes de covid”. 

Giammattei vuelve a los estados de calamidad, más restricciones y el vicepresidente lo rechaza
Prensa Comunitaria, 13 de agosto de 2021 
“Giamamttei no se refirió al contrato anómalo con la empresa rusa Human Vaccine, no explicó que sucedió con los fondos millonarios y si existe o no un cronograma para la adquisición de vacunas para la población. Sobre la solicitud de su renuncia que se extendido a todo el territorio nacional, reafirmado por las autoridades indígenas y ancestrales de los pueblos originarios este día,  no hizo ningún comentario”.

Directora regional de OIM reitera compromiso migratorio en visita a Honduras
Proceso Digital, 13 de agosto de 2021 
“‘Desde (la) OIM reafirmamos nuestro compromiso para continuar trabajando y velando por los derechos de las personas migrantes, y seguir avanzando hacia una gestión migratoria más eficaz’, subrayó Klein-Solomon en Honduras”.

The Biden-Harris Strategy on the Root Causes of Migration (and Fragility) in Central America
Center for Strategic & International Studies, August 12, 2021
“The Biden-Harris administration recently launched a strategy for addressing the root causes of migration in Central America. This critical questions summarizes the strategy then analyzes how it is different from previous efforts, how it aligns with other administration priorities and international efforts, and what success could look like.”

Ministerio Público pide ampliar prisión preventiva a defensores del río Guapinol » 
El Criterio, August 12, 2021 
“Asimismo, la Oficina del Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas en Honduras (OACNUDH), pidió al Estado de Honduras impedir el uso del sistema judicial hondureño para criminalizar a los defensores del medio ambiente de la comunidad de Guapinol, a quienes las autoridades judiciales han negado el derecho de la defensa en libertad”. 

A ritmo de notas de marimba, CODECA, comunidades y organizaciones salen a manifestar
Prensa Comunitaria, 9 de agosto de 2021
“La renuncia del presidente Alejandro Giammattei, la renuncia de la fiscal general y jefa del Ministerio Público, Consuelo Porras, y la conformación de una Asamblea Constituyente Popular y Plurinacional, como una ruta para replantear el modelo de Estado actual que ya no responde a las necesidades de la población, constituyen los principales planteamientos de una nueva jornada de protestas ciudadanas que tomó las calles este lunes, como lo ha realizado desde el viernes 23 de julio, cuando Porras detonó el rechazo de la población con la destitución de Juan Francisco Sandoval de la Fiscalía Especial Contra la Impunidad (FECI), reconocido como el último bastión de la lucha contra la corrupción que se inició en 2015”. 

Famine relief blocked by bullets, red tape and lack of funding, warn FAO and WFP as acute food insecurity reaches new highs – 30 July 2021
UN World Food Programme, July 30, 2021 
Bureaucratic obstacles as well as a lack of funding also hamper the two UN agencies’ efforts to provide emergency food assistance and enable farmers to plant at scale and at the right time. This is of grave concern as conflict, the economic repercussions of COVID-19 and the climate crisis are expected to drive higher levels of acute food insecurity in 23 hunger hotspots over the next four months, according to the report, as acute food insecurity continues to increase in scale and severity.”

Actions, Alerts, and Resources

Estudio de OIM analiza el impacto diferenciado en las personas migrantes de la aplicación de la norma Título 42 
IOM, 20 de agosto de 2021
“Ciudad de México – Un estudio realizado en México por la Organización Internacional para las Migraciones (OIM) sobre la base de testimonios de más de un millar de personas migrantes retornadas a este país desde Estados Unidos al amparo de la norma conocida como Título 42 detalla las principales consecuencias humanitarias que enfrentó esa población migrante durante los casi 18 meses de aplicación de la medida”. 

Climate Disasters and the Need to Protect and Support Climate Refugees
Moses Ngong and Maureen Meyer, WOLA, August 13, 2021 
“As the 2021 hurricane season begins, the lasting damage of Eta and Iota serves as a recent example of the disastrous effects of climate change in one of the world’s poorest, most vulnerable regions. As storms continue to pose grave threats to Central America, and with the release of the most recent IPCC report painting a grim picture for how climate change will affect a region already disproportionately impacted by it, governments need to look towards long-term solutions to long-term problems.”

* The Migration News Brief is a selection of relevant news articles, all of which do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the Latin America Working Group.